Wednesday, May 22, 2013

VerbCorner - crowd sourcing and verb meaning

Josh, a postdoc at Harvard, has initiated an online game called VerbCorner in order to crowd source the study of the meaning of verbs. How often do you and I, the little people, get a chance to contribute to Harvard quality linguistic research? Well, apparently quite a lot these days. Research is for the masses!

Here's Josh's explanation
Dictionaries have existed for centuries, but scientists still haven't worked out the exact meanings for most words. At VerbCorner, we are trying to work out what verbs mean. Rather than try to work out the definition of a word all at once, we have broken the problem into a series of tasks. Each task has a fanciful backstory -- which we hope you enjoy! -- but at its heart, each task is asking about a specific component of meaning that scientists suspect makes up one of the building blocks of verb meaning.

Ultimately, we hope to probe dozens of aspects of the meaning of thousands of verbs. This is a massive project, which is why we need your help! We will be sharing the results of this project freely with scientists and the public alike, and we expect it to make a valuable contribution to linguistics, psychology, and computer science.
Being a verb meaning kinda guy myself, I'm very interested to see how this all plays out (literally and figuratively). My [defunct] dissertation was on verb semantics and Talmy's force dynamics. I'm really curious to see if Josh has included any Force Dynamics into this game.

Now, go play!

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